For those working in the US military, part of keeping their morale high is receiving mail from loved ones back home. Not just care packages such as clothing, food, and other trinkets, but even cards and letters. It is especially important for those who are serving in distant locations such as Korea, Afghanistan, and other far-off places. It is a reminder to them that they will still have a place to call home when they get back. Sports Overnight would like to ensure that you fully understand how to do this. That way, you can keep in touch with a loved one serving in the military, no matter how far away they are.
1. Printing Postage for Diplomatic or Military Mail
The USPS and other carrier services have some very strict regulations when printing postage for the diplomatic or military stations. You will need to select a specific service to deliver the mail. For instance, in most cases, you will need to use Priority Mail that comes with free Delivery Confirmation. That way, you do not end up using the money for a service you cannot use. Besides that, if you use the Large Flat-Rate Priority Mail box, you can save about 17% on shipping if it is headed to a military station.
If you would like to print addresses and postage at once with a mailing label, or you would like to print the address and postage together when sending a letter, ensure that you attach customs documentation if the letter weighs more than 16 ounces.
When you use a shipping label and a Large Flat Rate Priority Mail box you can gain a ‘Support our Troops” discount of about 14%. There is also the option to use NetStamps if you use USPS. Since these are not tied to a specific address, you can print them and use them on any mail.
2. Basic requirements for military and diplomatic mail
• The mail has to be properly addressed
The mail should at least contain the name of the service member, the PSC (Postal Service Center), the Box or Ship’s name, the hull number, FPO/APO “state” (AE, AP, AA) and the ZIP.
If the mail is headed to a base inside the US, avoid using the state in which the base is located. Instead, just use AA. For instance, if the base is in Texas, use “AA” instead of writing “TX.”
Because of concerns for the security of service members, the DoD disapproves of mail sent with the unit designations. For instance Co. C, 14th Batallion, 23rd Infantry Regiment on the address.
The DoD now discourages sending mail address to “Any Soldier,” “Any Sailor,” or “Any Service Member.” While this was a strategy used to boost the morale of service members of the military in the past, it is now discouraged due to concerns about security. It will now be sent back to its sender.
3. Mail must not have any items prohibited by the USPS
In addition to the restrictions by the USPS, the host countries will have regulations on what items can or cannot be allowed. Besides that, the US military will have its own regulations on what is not allowed. For instance, for US service members serving in the Middle East, items that contravene the Islamic faith are not allowed. However, single copies of non-Islamic religious materials are allowed.
However, these rules will vary according to the region in which a service member is located. To get a good understanding of things, always visit the site of the carrier service you will use. They will give you the best information on what you can ship.
Because of expected delays in delivery, perishable items are not allowed. For instance, meat and fruits are not allowed. Canned or processed food is allowed as long as it meets all the requirements of the military, the carrier service, and the rules of the host country.
The package also has to be secured well enough to withstand up to six weeks in transit. It could potentially end up in place with extreme temperature or in places where packages as subjected to rough handling. For instance, it may be because of a poor road network in the destination country.
4. Shipping overseas
When shipping a package overseas, you must provide all the necessary customs forms. This will be attached to the package as it is shipping out.
Transit times can vary, especially when packages are headed to combat zones. In case, fighting flares up, that would mean some delays would occur. Because of this, most carriers shipping to the military and diplomatic stations will not offer strict guarantees.
As a rule of thumb, these are the estimates by which, you can expect your mail to arrive:
• First Class: 2-3 weeks
• Priority: 2-3 weeks
• Parcel Post: 6 weeks
• Express Mail: Up to a week. However, Express is only offered to certain destinations. You have to consult the carrier service to find out where it is offered.